Not since 2007 has the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) projected a higher number of motor vehicle fatalities. For 2020, the year where a worldwide pandemic changed everything – nearly 40,000 lives were lost in accidents.
While the number is baffling and alarming considering the vehicles that remained parked at their owners’ homes, one category, in particular, is particularly troubling. Black people killed in crashes increased 23 percent from the previous year, representing the single most significant increase among all racial groups.
Why is this happening?
Experts cite the specific demographic due to more of the Black population overrepresented as walkers in the United States. In reality, anyone that chooses to be a pedestrian rather than a driver is at more risk of vehicle-related fatalities at a rate of up to 10 times more likely.
While more motor vehicle-related accident deaths were shocking, the National Safety Council saw the trend early on in the pandemic when March of 2020 ended with a 14 percent increase in roadway deaths. Black people were already 82 percent more likely to be struck by drivers, according to Smart Growth America.
The problem has been growing for decades. Road infrastructure and design going back to the 1950s may also be a contributing factor. Many neighborhoods where a predominance of people of color reside suffer a disproportionate lack of crosswalks, signs, and other mechanisms that keep pedestrians safe. Highways that cut right through these areas only make a bad situation tragically worse.
When it comes to motor vehicle operation and safety measures to protect the lives of people, adding negligent drivers to that mix results in life-changing injuries and often tragic and preventable deaths.